It’s no secret that the cannabis industry is growing quicker than the plants themselves. As cultivation facilities develop and expand across the country, energy consumption in states like Colorado and California are on the rise. Keeping the cannabis industry green is a challenge in itself and it’s important for brands to start thinking about how to minimize their carbon footprint. Consumers are becoming more and more conscious about their own environmental impact with the products they choose. Brands that are actively working toward sustainability will be the ones that will rise to the top.
Industry in general has been a significant burden on the climate. But cannabis companies can make the decision to minimize their carbon footprint from their inception. If cannabis businesses can collectively work together to become a truly green industry and reduce their carbon footprint, it will increasingly improve the political position of the plant itself.
Under the critical lens of government and media, Colorado has been setting standards at the forefront of the cannabis legalization movement. This not only applies to the cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis, but also to the marketing and public perception of the plant. It is important for new cannabis companies to lead by example with regards to the long-term sustainability of this new industry.
Two Colorado companies in particular are leading the way with sustainable, environmentally friendly approaches: Verde Natural and Mary Jane’s Medicinals.
Verde Natural is a vertically integrated company that grows cannabis for its medical retail store in Denver and also wholesales cannabis to other retailers. It’s taken several progressive steps to stay green.
– Verde Natural uses a unique soil growing process and substitutes pesticides with essential oil foliar sprays (i.e. clove, rosemary, etc.). Rather than disposing of their soil after every harvest, like most soil grows, Verde Natural recycles its biologically active soil by reamending it with nutrients derived from the earth (i.e. bat guano, limestone, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, & granular humic acids). Cassandra Maffey, the head grower at Verde Natural, used this system at her previous grow using the same soil for six years.
– Verde Natural composts 85% of its pre- and post-harvest material (i.e. root balls, fan leaves, etc.) and encourages patients to refill or recycle used containers with a drop-off bin at the store.
– Verde Natural installed 50,000 square feet of solar panels above its grow facility.
Mary Jane’s Medicinals also follows an all-natural path to sustainability. Owner Dahlia Mertens founded the Telluride company, which manufactures a wide range of products from lip balms to body lotions. It is best known for its award-winning healing salve which patients rave about for pain relief and other medicinal needs.
Mary Jane’s has a medical and recreational soil-based grow operation which uses completely organic grow methods.
“All of the ingredients in our products are all-natural,” Mertens says. “We use a lot of organic ingredients as well. When you read our ingredient list, you know exactly what everything is. It is one of the cleanest products on the market with absolutely zero chemicals.”
Mertens’ grow facility is not large enough to supply all of the company’s needs so she sources additional cannabis from a large organic greenhouse operation in Pueblo that conserves electricity by utilizing natural sunlight.
“Pueblo County regulations for grows make it much easier for these larger outdoor grows and the growing environment is better there too,” Mertens says.
Mary Jane’s Medicinals also recycles all of its materials and reclaims its soil.
“We are in the process of transitioning to all biodegradable plastics in the next few months as well, which I am really excited about,” Mertens adds.
Despite dozens of companies calling themselves “green,” there are no government regulations to mandate environmentally friendly procedures within the cannabis industry.
Olivia Mannix is the co-founder and CEO of the award-winning marketing agency Cannabrand. She founded the agency with her partner in 2014 to rebrand cannabis. Mannix has been an advocate for legalizing cannabis and is passionate about marketing it. Her expertise includes cannabis products, public relations, consumer insights and the unique cannabis marketing laws and regulations.